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Planting for Success

Our Narrative Lectionary reading for this upcoming Sunday is from Mark 4:1-9.  Jesus tells a parable about a sower who plants seeds in a variety of places.  This is an amazing parable, and it can be looked at from many different angles.  Today I want to look at it from the perspective of how I personally receive truth/wisdom.

The first seed is planted on a path, scattered on the surface it became food for the birds.  I have found that I pay less attention to common wisdom.  As true as it may be, I neglect to apply the simple truths in my life.  Was Jesus encouraging teachers to hide their truths in parables like he did?  In the very next story he goes on to explain why he always taught in parables, was this foreshadowing?  Sometimes we need to chew on something, to wrestle with it to accept it.

The second seed is planted on the rocky soil.  It sprang up but died quickly because it could not find root among the rocks.  The sun came out and scorched the plants, the withered and died.  Sometimes I am really excited by something new.  I get obsessed with it and put all of my energy into it.  These whims usually die off though.  When tried by time or difficulty I give up.  Are you like that too?  I wonder if Jesus is warning is encouraging us that truth really does need time to settle in.  Don't make a leader out of a new convert.  Let the test of time build good things in them.  Look for fruit more than excitement. 

The third seed fell among the thorns and it was choked out.  Have you ever noticed how hard it is to receive feedback when you are already defensive?  If I am "prickly" I can't really hear you.  I have to get my head in the right place.  I can't even begin to count the number of times I have rolled my eyes at perfectly good wisdom because I was not in the right head space to hear it. 

The final seed fell on good seed and it had a massive yield.  When I am really able to hear and apply wisdom, it goes a long way.  Often opening new doors and opportunities.

From this angle, this parable reminds me that Jesus tells us not to throw our pearls at the swine.  We need to make sure the soil is just right if we want to impact the world.  We need to dress up the truth in narrative so that it's not thrown out as common.  We need to give truth time to settle in and bear real fruit.  And we need to make sure that people are in the right head space to hear what we have to say.

Can you imagine if the teachers and mentors in your life had followed this wisdom?  How would it have impacted you?  How can you impact the next generation by holding your tongue until it is the right time and place to share your truth?


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